Owls Early Run Too Much For Mean Green Hoops Comeback
Alzee Williams Scores 18, But NT Falls At Rice, 75-70
HOUSTON - North Texas used stingy defense and 18 points from Alzee Williams to whittle its way back into things, but Rice's early lead was too much to overcome in a 75-70 loss at Tudor Fieldhouse on Thursday.
The Mean Green (11-11, 2-6 C-USA) cut what was once a 17-point Owl (7-15, 2-6 C-USA) lead to two points, 56-54, with a pair of Chris Jones free throws with 6:08 left, but couldn't close get any closer. Rice hit eight free throws in the final 46 seconds to seal the victory, their second straight at home.
NT held the Owls without a field goal for a nine minute stretch midway through the second half, which allowed the Mean Green to claw back. Freshman big-man Sean Obi broke the scoring drought with a dunk with 4:10 on the clock, and hit two more layups over the next three minutes. Obi was the difference in the game for the Owls with 18 points and 13 boards on the low block.
Colin Voss posted his third double-double of the year with 11 points and 10 boards, and Jones joined him in double figures with 12 points.
The Owls pounced on the Mean Green out of the gate. An Andrew Drone dunk capped a 25-8 Rice run that opened up a 17-point lead with just under 11 minutes remaining in the first half.
That's when North Texas tightened the defensive screws. NT's man-on-man defense held Rice to just a pair of field goals over the final 8:30 of the first half, which got its patented transition game on the move. The result was a 13-2 run fueled by six points from Alzee Williams.Williams' runner with 40 seconds left made it a four-point game, but Rice's Sean Obi had a put-back with 10 seconds left to send the Owls into the half up, 37-31.
Next up for North Texas
• The two-game road swing continues at Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Mean Green Quick Hitters
• Colin Voss posted his third double-double in a Mean Green uniform with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
• Alzee Williams busted out of a recent slump to score a game-high tying 18 points.
• Tonight was the 70th career start for senior guard Alzee Williams. NT is 36-34 when Williams starts.
• Entering Thursday's game, North Texas led the overall series 9-3 with Rice, and had taken the previous four meetings. The last Rice win over North Texas came in 1995.